CBEST Test Breakdown

Apart from having thorough knowledge of the subject which he is going to teach, a teacher should also exhibit a high level of those skills that are essential for excelling as an educator. CBEST (California Basic Educational Skills Test) scores assist prospective educators in demonstrating these essential skills to their employers.

Importance of CBEST

The states of California and Oregon rely on your performance in CBEST as one of the criteria for evaluating your proficiency as an educator who wishes to earn his teaching credential or service credential. The test is designed to fulfill the California requirements of laws related to credentialing and employment. A point to be noted here is that the significance of other requirements for issuance of teaching credentials remains the same even if you have passed the test. In other words, your scores will be considered in conjunction with the other requirements for grant of teaching credentials.

Skills Tested by CBEST

CBEST is not designed to test your ability to teach any skill; rather it is a measure of the basic educational skills that an efficient and successful educator should ideally posses. Passing the test before grant of teaching credentials ensures that all teachers have a minimum level of basic reading, writing and math skills irrespective of the subject that they would eventually be teaching. The exam is thus designed to assess your reading, writing and math skills of the level that is necessary for imparting quality education to school students and also to adults attending classes at adult education centers. CBEST consists of 3 test sections, one for each of the skills being assessed.

  • Reading Test Section:


    1. The 50 questions asked in this test section are designed to assess your reading skills. Not only will information be presented to you in the form of reading passages, but you will also be presented with tables and graphs that will have to be interpreted by you for extracting the information that is necessary for answering the questions that follow them. The information presented to you will come in varying levels of difficulty and will be drawn from an assortment of subject areas and fields.
    2. The questions asked will be multiple-choice questions in which you have to choose the correct answer from the given options. The fact that you have to choose the correct answer from the given answer options does not mean that you need not prepare for this test section. You need to have good comprehension skills to understand the text presented to you and you need to have the ability to draw inferences in order to answer the questions correctly.
    3. The good news here is that you will not need any subject specific knowledge to answer these questions. All information necessary for answering the questions will be provided to you. You will need your reading skills to interpret the given information for answering the questions.
    4. The questions asked in this test section will be drawn from two skill areas: - Critical Analysis and Evaluation: Accounts for 40 percent of the questions asked.

- Comprehension and Research Skills: Accounts for 60 percent of the questions asked.

  • Mathematics Test Section:


    1. There are 50 multiple-choice questions asked in this test section.
    2. The questions will be in the form of word problems that are designed to evaluate your skills in problem solving, measurement, estimation and in understanding graphs.
    3. You will have to carry out mathematical operations in order to solve the given problems. Hence, there is a need to be familiar with the basic concepts of mathematics.
    4. You are not permitted to use a calculator during the test. Refer to the official website, http://www.cbest.nesinc.com/index.asp for more information on the prohibited materials while taking the CBEST.
    5. The questions asked in this test section will be drawn from three skill areas:

- Estimation, Measurement and Statistical Principles: 30 percent of the questions asked are from this skill area.
- Computation and Problem Solving: Accounts for about 35 percent of the questions asked.
- Numerical and Graphic Relationships: Accounts for the remaining 35 percent of the questions.

  • Writing Test Section:


    1. This test section is an assessment of your abilities to express yourself by writing clear and concise essays that are free of grammatical and spelling errors. You will also be assessed for your abilities to focus on the topic that you are writing about. You will need to exhibit your skills in supporting your ideas with relevant examples.
    2. You will have to write two essays in this test section. One essay will require you to write about a personal experience and the second will require you to demonstrate your analytical skills by critically analyzing a given statement.

Time Allotted for Taking the CBEST

You are given a total of four hours to take the CBEST. There is no time limit for the individual test sections. Therefore, you can spend as much time as you want on any test section. You can also choose to attempt the test sections in any order. Keep in mind that you will not be allowed more than the stipulated four hours to complete all the test sections. Therefore, plan your time carefully so that you are able to attempt all the test sections at a comfortable pace.

Scoring for the Reading and Mathematics Test Sections

You will be able to view the unofficial test scores for the Reading and Mathematics test sections after completion at the test center itself. These scores are based on the number of questions that you have answered correctly. The scores for both these test sections are reported on a scale from 20 to 80. The official score reports will reach you after about 10 days from the test date.

Scoring for the Writing Test Section

The writing test section scores are based on how efficiently you have written the two essays.  You will need to write both the essays in order to be eligible for earning passing scores in the Writing Test section. If you fail the Writing Test, your score report will describe those features of your writing abilities that need to be improved upon for meeting the passing standards. Scoring sessions are held immediately after each CBEST administration to score the essays written by you in the Writing Test section. The scoring is done by educators with certified professional backgrounds. The writing scores are calculated by summing up the scores for both the essays and converting the summed score to a scaled score in the range of 20 to 80.

Some Important Facts Related to CBEST Scoring

  • The scores for all the test sections are reported on a scale from 20 to 80.
  • The passing score for each test section is 41.
  • The total CBEST score is arrived at by adding up the scores achieved in the individual test sections.
  • The total passing score is 123.
  • You will be able to pass the test even if you have scored less than 41 in one or two test sections subject to condition that you have scored at least 37 and your total score is 123 or more. This means that you will not be able to pass the CBEST if you have scored less than 37 in any of the test sections irrespective of how high your total score may be.
  • The policy for retaking the test allows you to retake only that test section in which you have failed. You need not take those test sections in which you have already attained the passing scores. Hence, you can take one, two or all three test sections at a particular test administration. Your total score will be calculated on the basis of the highest score that you have achieved in a particular test section from all the administrations that you have taken so far.
  • Once you have passed the CBEST, there is no requirement of retaking the test as the scores do not have any validity period. However, you can retake specific test sections for improving your test scores.


After Passing the CBEST

You will be provided with the following after passing the CBEST:

  • A score report consisting of your individual test section scores and the total score. The score report will also contain information about your performance in each of the skill areas being assessed by each of the CBEST test sections.
  • A Permanent Verification Card, which is a proof of the fact that you have taken and passed the CBEST.
  • Two transcript copies of your Permanent Verification Card. These will be used by you to meet the requirements of schools or universities that you wish to join as an educator.

The Final Word!

Remember that you have to pass the CBEST only once. There is no validity period after which your scores will expire. Therefore, put in your level best and clear the test in the first attempt itself. Passing the CBEST will help you in building a solid foundation for a rewarding career as an educator in the states of California and Oregon.

Terms and Conditions

Information published in TestPrepPractice.net is provided for informational and educational purpose alone for deserving students, researchers and academicians. Though our volunteers take great amount of pain and spend significant time in validating the veracity of the information or study material presented here, we cannot be held liable for any incidental mistakes. All rights reserved. No information or study material in this web site can be reproduced or transmitted in any form, without our prior consent. However the study materials and web pages can be linked from your web site or web page for

  • Research

  • Education

  • Academic purposes

No permission is required to link any of the web page with educational information available in this web site from your web site or web page